The investigation into an insider attack near Tarin Kowt Airfield, Afghanistan, on July 7, 2018, called into question the reliability of the vetting process for Afghan partner forces.
Many Afghan troops are not vetted at all, according to the investigative report, and those who are but fail the screening process are often not removed from formations quickly.
The investigation, which was only released to Army Times this month, also praised the quick actions of U.S. soldiers who were pulling security for their fellow troops from 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, known as the “Guardian Angel” mission, during the incident.
As the attack unfolded, the Guardian Angels, or GAs, barricaded themselves and the advisers in an office building. Cpl. Joseph Maciel, 20, a 3rd Infantry Division rifleman assigned to the GA mission, died after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds and grenade fragmentation. Two other GAs were also wounded.
The GAs “played an invaluable role in minimizing the number of casualties,” the investigating officer wrote in the report. Their “quick reaction to an unpredictable event allowed them to quickly consolidate to protect the [1st SFAB] members, recover the two injured GAs, secure their location until QRF arrived, and ensure the wounded individuals received first aid.”
The insider attack was carried out by “at least one” Afghan National Army soldier “with no clear motive,” according to the investigation. How exactly the individual slipped through the Afghan military’s vetting process, if he was vetted at all, was redacted in the investigation.
“Through interviews, it was discovered that due to the amount of individuals to be vetted, it is not uncommon for an individual to not be vetted,” the investigation reads. “Additionally, it was found that if individuals fail the screening process, there is a significant delay in the time it takes the GIRoA Ministry of Defense to take action.”